UK & World News

  • 24 February 2014, 8:05

David Cameron Takes His Cabinet To Scotland

David Cameron will chair a Cabinet meeting in Aberdeen - only the second time in more than 90 years it will have met in Scotland.

Ministers will convene just seven miles away from a separate session of the Scottish Cabinet in nearby Portlethen - but neither side will meet.

The Prime Minister has resisted calls from First Minister Alex Salmond to share a platform in a head-to-head televised debate.

The leader of the Scottish National Party has branded him cowardly for his refusal, but opponents argue Alistair Darling is the leader of the No campaign rather than David Cameron.

Afterwards, Cabinet ministers including Home Secretary Theresa May, Defence Secretary Philip Hammond and Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander will make regional visits in Scotland.

SNP Westminster leader Angus Robertson MP said: "There is a big contrast between the UK Government jetting into Aberdeen to lay down the law to the people of Scotland and heading off again - and the Scottish Government engaging with local people in a question and answer session to make the case for Yes."

He added: "And it would be even better if David Cameron had the courage to debate Alex Salmond face-to-face - as two-thirds of people in Scotland want.

"The next time the UK Government comes to Scotland, it should be for the Prime Minister to debate Alex Salmond - we'll even pay his easyJet fare!"

The meetings of the UK and Scottish cabinets have been timed to coincide with the publication of a review of the oil industry by retired tycoon Sir Ian Wood.

He said a shake-up of North Sea oil regulation could provide a 200bn boost to the UK economy.

The measures contained in Sir Ian's report, which the Government will fast-track for implementation, include the creation of a new independent regulator to supervise licensing.

North Sea oil is a key strand of the Yes campaign, and Mr Cameron is expected to challenge their arguments by saying the industry is boosted by the UK as a whole.

Ahead of the Cabinet meeting, he said: "For many years the UK has supported the North Sea oil and gas industry and we have worked together to make this an economic success the whole country can be proud of.

"I promise we will continue to use the UK's broad shoulders to invest in this vital industry so we can attract businesses, create jobs, develop new skills in our young people and ensure we can compete in the global race."

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